Attorney General James Announces Arrests Of Assisted Living Facility Employees For Putting Elderly Resident In Harm's Way

Attorney General James Announces Arrests of Assisted Living Facility Employees for Putting Elderly Resident in Harm’s Way

Elderly Resident Wandered Outdoors in Freezing Temperatures While Four Employees Allegedly Ignored Alarms, Slept and Disregarded Residents

BUFFALO – Attorney General Letitia James today announced the arrests and arraignments of personal care assistants George Stokes, LaQuanda Johnson and Caprice Newbern, as well as medical technician Stephanie Shinault, in the Town of Amherst Court for allegedly abandoning the care of a vulnerable elderly resident at the Brompton Heights assisted living facility. The resident wandered out of the facility and was found after remaining outdoors for hours in freezing temperatures on the night of December 8-9, 2017. Stokes was arrested and arraigned on June 27, 2019, and Shinault, Johnson and Newbern were arrested and arraigned on June 12, 2019. 

“We will never tolerate neglectful behavior that puts our most vulnerable individuals in harm’s way,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “New Yorkers deserve every assurance that their loved ones are safe in the nursing homes they entrust with their care. Anything less is unconscionable, and my office will continue to hold those responsible accountable for their egregious actions.” 

Defendant Stokes is alleged to have slept for four-and-a-half hours during the overnight shift.  By doing so, the residential hall he was assigned to monitor was left unattended, and an 87-year old resident, wearing only her nightgown, wandered out through an emergency exit. The resident was found outdoors several hours later nearly unconscious and suffering from hypothermia, bruising, and frostbite. 

Defendants Shinault, Newbern and Johnson were at a nurse’s station that monitored the wing of the assisted living facility on which the resident lived.  They are alleged to have muted or ignored the alarms that were set off when the resident wandered through the exit doors. They then took their breaks at the same time and departed from the facility together, while knowing that Stokes was asleep and not doing his duties.  When they left the facility, the entire wing was left unmonitored by employees and staff.

The four defendants were each charged in the Town of Amherst Court with felony Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person in the Second Degree and misdemeanor Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person in the Second Degree. The defendants face up to one to four years in prison if convicted of the felony charge.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Soo-young Chang of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, under the supervision of Chief of Criminal Investigations-Upstate Catherine Wagner. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice José Maldonado. 

The case was investigated by Investigators Katie O’Neill and Milagro Ferrer, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator James Zablonski and Deputy Chief Investigator William Falk, and Medical Analyst Jennifer Cronkhite, R.N., and Auditor Investigator Brandon Andrews, under the supervision of Regional Chief Auditor Frank Zeffiro.